CHARLOTTE - With the countdown until Election Day in the single digits, the North Carolina NAACP is taking on controversial combination: religion and politics.
It held a news conference Monday voicing their concerns over a controversial ad campaign by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on the upcoming election.
This month the non-profit payed for a number of full-page newspaper ads featuring a statement by Rev. Graham reading:
"The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is critical. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.”
The NAACP said it indirectly endorses Mitt Romney and portrays a narrow view of true christian values.
“The political endorsement was particularly ironic since the non-profit you preside over, has until a couple of weeks ago, questioned whether Mormonism is even a part of the christian faith," said NAACP President William Barber.
In response, the BGEA said submitted this statement: “The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest, urging instead for readers to cast votes for candidates—at all levels—based on their support for biblical values. Mr. Graham... expressed a desire to publicly call America back to God and to prayer, and to draw attention to moral issues that are clearly addressed in the Bible and have increasingly become part of a national political dialog.”
The NAACP said their challenge is not an endorsement for President Barack Obama. Leaders said their primary concern is the social issues the evangelist used to represent the Christian faith.
"The core of our faith lifts up notions of justice, our concerns for the poor, immigrants rights,” said Dr. Rodney Sadler with the Union Presbyterian Seminary.
"To attempt to remove those things from the center and place private moral issues at the center is a misuse of the Christian faith and it must be challenged publicly and openly," said Barber.
The full-page ads ran in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Charlotte Observer. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association said general ministry funds were not used to pay for the advertisements.